By Ashley Lucas
I’m hard pressed to name something I like more than outdoor concerts. Saturday night, after years of recommendations by friends, I experienced my first show at the Lime Kiln Theater in Lexington, VA. And what an experience it was. Oklahoma based band, the Turnpike Troubadours had the crowd (of about 700 people) dancing, singing, hootin’ and hollerin’, at this sold out show. I will say, in all honesty, that I haven’t enjoyed an outdoor show this much since I saw the Lumineers at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and there’s a few reasons why.
First, Lime Kiln is one of the prettiest music venues I’ve been to in Virginia. For me, it beats Wolf Trap, and that’s saying a lot. Wherever you’re sitting, you’re close to the action. I spent most of the show in the second row and the sound was perfect, but when I ventured to the back of the theater, the sound was just as good. I even went behind the stage and the band still sounded immaculate. The venue is called “the bowl” because it’s nestled between a collection of large rocks. Looking up, you’re covered by a canopy of trees and after the sun departed, fireflies danced like fairies. In addition to the beauty and sound quality of the theater, the food and beverage options were top notch. Devil’s Backbone Brewery is a sponsor of Lime Kiln and I think we can all agree…yum.
Second, the staff, board members and Executive Director who were all on hand for the show were also some of the nicest and accomodating folks I’ve had the privilege of meeting, and their passion behind making Lime Kiln a premiere concert-going necessity is genuinely apparent. They’re currently renovating another stage called “The Kiln”, whose purpose has yet to be determined. Board member, Stephanie RiCharde, commented that they’re working with an architectural company out of Washington D.C. to revitalize “The Kiln” which they hope to open in the next couple years. It will be able to hold a larger crowd, and I know I can’t wait to be in it!
Last but certainly not least; the wonderful music. I don’t usually cover opening acts, but Charley Crockett and his band are not your typical openers. Do yourself a favor, and check out their eclectic blend of country and Cajun. It’s a delicious musical feast, one that I plan on devouring for some time to come.
Now onto the Red Dirt boys. The Turnpike Troubadours have been making music together since 2005, spending the vast majority of the last twelve years on the road, and that seasoned experience showed. The six-piece roots rock band, featuring a truly beautiful steel guitar, was incredibly tight. Lead Singer, Evan Felker, is a quintessential front man. Charming, expressive, and energetic, he coasted through a setlist of crowd favorites, and quickly incited a stage front, flatfooting frenzy. The crowd was in it, singing along with Welker as he belted out hits like “7 & 7”, “Every Girl”, “Good Lord Lorrie”, “Morgan Street”, “Gin, Smoke, Lies”, “Down Here”, “Whole Damn Town”, “1968”, and “Long Hot Summer Day”. They included a new song, recently recorded in Asheville, NC, that will be on their upcoming album, and if that song is any indication of what to expect, we’re in for a real treat. Bassist RC Edwards had a terrific moment taking over lead vocals, singing a gorgeous cover of Dawes’ “All Your Favorite Bands”. His performance added dimension to the show, and his voice is an absolute gift.
The highlight of the concert for me was the performance of “Diamonds and Gasoline”. It was the first slow tempo song of the show, which came almost at the end of the set. Felker stood alone on the stage, and in his hand was one of the most beautiful Martin guitars I’ve ever seen. From a songwriting perspective, “Diamonds and Gasoline” is utter perfection. From the unique rhyme scheme, to the sincerity of the lyrics, the song stands up with some of my all-time favorites. Felker’s beautiful high alto voice soared through the leaves of the canopy of trees and added even more magic to an already entrancing evening.
This is the second time that the Turnpike Troubadours have visited Lime Kiln Theater, and hopefully they’ll be back again. In the meantime, check out Lime Kiln’s upcoming schedule which includes Love Canon and the Wood Brothers. I can say, without a doubt, you will not be disappointed.